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THE SOUND OF PERSEVERANCE
This one was hailed as THE metal album long before its release date. Either people are that confident
in frontman/backbone of DEATH Chuck Schuldiner, or everyone in
the world but me got an advanced copy. Probably both.
SOUND is the long-awaited
return of DEATH, which Chuck put on hold after SYMBOLIC in 1995.
He went on to form power metal band CONTROL DENIED, but decided with the
upsurge in metal that it was time to bring back DEATH. Prone to
personnel changes, it's no surprise DEATH 1998's only mainstay
is of course Chuck himself. His new lineup is an assembly of more than
qualified unknowns, playing impressively through the fifty-six minute
duration of SOUND's nine songs. The technicality of DEATH
has always been somewhat overrated, attributed to decorative drummers
more than extremely intricate structures. SOUND changes all that.
Despite the lengthy running time, SOUND never bores. Chuck's composition
skills - though already well beyond adequate - have greatly improved,
allowing for impressive tracks such as "Spirit Crusher" and
"To Forgive is to Suffer." "Bite the Pain" stands
as the shortest track at less than five minutes; everything else soars
past that effortlessly ("Flesh and the Power it Holds" most
significantly at eight plus minutes).
Chuck's vocals are more higher
pitched now, and perhaps even more aggressive for being such. The lyrics
continue Chuck's war against people with negativity ("Bite the Pain"),
his personal triumphs ("Story to Tell," "A Moment of Clarity"),
and rumor mills ("Scavenger of Human Sorrow"). Never shy about
guitar solos, SOUND showcases some of the most melodic work Chuck
has written, and as usual he has brought along an equally impressive soloist,
in this case Shannon Hamm. The album ends with their cover of JUDAS PRIEST's
"Painkiller," where Chuck delivers the vocals in true power
metal form. (You'll already know if you think that's a good thing or not.)
Chuck's been at it for several years now, and it's great to see him re-establish
his presence in metal with a true milestone of an album.
Five Perplex Skulls
This review copyright 1998 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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